Decades of hardly any competitors gave SAB an enviable problem: too much cash and too few places to put it. Foreign exchange controls and eventually international isolation forced SAB to buy businesses in its own backyard. By the mid-1990s, SAB was a sprawling industrial conglomerate, with a finger in every pie. It owned Southern Sun Hotels, manufacturers Plate Glass, Afcol and Lion Match, and retailers Edgars and OK Bazaars to name but a few. In 1990 SAB acquired a brewing company in the Canary Islands and by 1992 had decided that Central Europe, where a host of middle-income economies were emerging from communist rule, was the place to be. The next year it bought the largest brewer in Hungary and two years later took a stake in the Lech brewing company in Poland. But it soon became clear exchange controls would still be a hindrance to the group’s overseas ambitions. So SAB decided to list in London to attract more capital for international expansion. It started hiving off assets a...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as articles from our international business news partners; ProfileData financial data; and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now